October 3, 2106 Reading
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-4 NIV
Rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
Wow. In all the times I’ve read this, somehow I’ve never noticed what this verse says about forgiveness.
- If your brother or sister sins against you
- Rebuke them
- If they repent
- Forgive them
What are these verses not saying?
- It doesn’t say that this applies to non-Christians who have sinned against me.
- It says “sins” against me. Not accidentally hurt me. Not unintentionally hurt my feelings. It says this is how to deal with a brother or sister in Christ who has sinned against me.
- This is about a sin against me. Not me forgiving a sin someone did against someone else. For example, someone says something mean to my child, it is between my child and that person. Not me.
- “Rebuke them.” Whoa, hold on. It doesn’t say to gossip about them. It doesn’t say to be passive aggressive. It doesn’t say to return evil for evil. It doesn’t say to be a martyr and let people walk over me. Jesus says, if a brother or sister sins against me, I am to have a conversation with them about it. I am to call them on it.
- “If they repent.” Forgiveness is conditional, based on the action of the offending party. Based on their willingness to repent. Which isn’t just saying “sorry” to placate me. Or just admitting to doing something wrong, but not having any remorse. But to repent. To have deep sorrow for an action and to turn away from that sin. I like Merriam-Webster’s full definition – Repent: to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong that you did and that you want to do what is right. To turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.
- a: to feel regret or contrition
- b: to change one’s mind
- At that point, I am to Forgive
I’ve read these verses many times before, but somehow I never noticed these steps leading up to forgiveness. I’ve always thought I need to “forgive” everyone, regardless of them repenting. Regardless of whether they even sinned against me personally. And the whole instruction about me rebuking them . . . that somehow went right over my head.
Yes, I need to forgive, and the process of forgiving is something I sometimes struggle with, as I mentioned in Forgiving. But this puts the process into a different perspective.
And really, isn’t this the process that God uses with us? He convicts us of our sins, but it is up to us to confess and repent of our sins, and then he forgives them.
P.S. Regardless of the forgiveness status, God commands us to love. To be patient, kind and keep no record of wrong.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Study more on forgiveness and pray about any sins I need to repent of or people I need to rebuke.
Jesus, thank you for giving us this straight-forward, simple explanation on the importance of forgiveness and the process. Please show me if there are sins I’ve committed that I need to repent. Please show me if there are people who have repented sins to me, but I still need to forgive. Please show me if there are people I need to rebuke, and give me the strength and words to confront them about a sin they committed against me. Thank you for dying for me and help me to forgive others in the way God has forgiven me.